Expression, Singapore, Suomi
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The Psychology of Lack.

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Apologies for the crazy long hiatus on this blog!  I had been really busy with work, life and thesis. ^.^ But I just want to share some of my reflections today, as a Singaporean living in Finland.

Today, I was walking home from Sello Shopping Centre (Because I went to see the Erik Bruun Gallery) through the Kilo forests.

“Wow this feels like walking on heaven!” I thought, “Why on Earth would people even want to study, or stay home?”

Then I realised–that’s precisely what most people are doing–they are outdoors!😀 Then I started wondering about other things.

You know, in Singapore, there are no such things as “natural” forests. Where there are reservoirs, it’s humid and sometimes filled with mosquitoes. In Finland I haven’t been bitten by mosquitoes or seen stuffs like cockroaches yet. What I’d seen are squirrels, fat birds, ducks with gentle eyes, even REINDEERS who cross the road. o.O Honestly, in Lapland there is even a law that says that if you hit a reindeer by mistake it is YOUR responsibility to care for the animal and even send it to the vet.

I wonder– if I were a Finn, how different would I be? I think I’d be very different. I’d probably have majored in the Arts or something, studied philosophy and I don’t think I’d be THIS ambitious.

I–don’t know. I don’t know why I’m so motivated by the psychology of lack. I think I’m doing ok financially. Had it been my education previously? Had it been because I was told all my life that it’s important to work hard and take absolutely NOTHING for granted? Had it been because I always grew up feeling somewhat financially insecure? I’m not sure, I’d always been in elite schools, and probably I was never rich enough.

It always depends on where your benchmark is, isn’t it.

Over here in Finland, it seems that people value their self-worth as the extent of their ideals. In Singapore, it seems that most people value their self-worth in terms of financial assets. My closer group of friends are buying houses as a hobby now (I’m not kidding).

By choosing a different path, I got a bit confused, but I think I grew a lot.

Then I tried imagining what I would be like, if I thought in terms of ideals. Then it started to scare me because I only thought in terms of ideals recently (mainly because of the thesis). This means that if I never came and stayed for more than a year here…I’d have been motivated all my life by a strong sense of lack.

The difference is that when you face a sense of lack, you do things to prevent yourself from falling into the worst case scenario. But when you do things motivated by ideals, you want to get into the best possible scenario.

The good thing about a sense of lack is that you definitely won’t do worse than average. Because you need a buffer.

The bad thing about a sense of ideals is that sometimes you want the best possible scenario that you don’t try enough, or trust someone else to try. Or that, you think about the permutations of things that could go wrong that you’re too paralyzed to even start.

Steve Jobs said–Stay Hungry, stay foolish. That’s definitely an attitude of lack.

What I see now, perhaps, is that if the attitude of lack can be combined with a great sense of aesthetics, it might become a powerful set of ideals.

The dream you have thrown away eons ago–because society told you it wasn’t practical, and made you follow the one or two “socially-approved” routes. In throwing away dreams, would one find contentment in other “socially approved” dreams?

What do you think?🙂


  1. enquirynellyliu says

    Great read wan wei! I think steve jobs had the combination of the two: an attitude of lack and ideals. That’s why he’s successful. I would think that a balance of these 2 principles drive innovation and success.

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